“I Want to Try Tenkara. Where do I Start?”
To simplify the component equation for tenkara and fixed line fly fishing, you can reduce it to having a rod, a line and a fly. Even with only those three parts of the angling system, it is amazing how complicated it may appear.
There is so much information in online forums, social media groups and vendor websites available to explain and influence your rod selection. You can get an earful about which lines are best matched to a specific rod. The “which fly should I use?” always gets a response with several dozen suggestions that likely don’t mean much. There are opinions from every one of us, and anglers gladly share information as long as you aren’t asking about a discrete location. So when you are ready to jump in, what do you need to know? Who should you listen to? Where do you start? Don’t let all this new information overload you too much.
“So, Which Rod Should I Get?”
There are 8′ 6” rods and 14′ rods. There are 5:5 ultra flex and 7:3 stiffer rods. There are cork handles and there are foam handles, even no handles. There are dozens of dozens of options available as seen at Tom Davis’ Teton Tenkara Rod Flex Chart.
There will be the “buy a starter kit” crowd, the “buy the best you can afford” group, the “get a warranty” crew, and the “go Japanese” bunch.
These conversations then quickly get to important questions that address water types, species, and the usual choice of flies. They include foreign terms such as genryu & keiryu. The dive into specie targets from smallmouth bass to six-inch native brook trout to steelhead. These discussions are all great because they can offer specific information to really help someone starting out.
The depth of knowledge gained and shared again from everyone on these matters is exponential each year. These “gear threads” in groups/forums shed light on the equipment niche for specific functions. Once you learn some basics about tenkara you can begin to dial in your own interest in where you want to go with it.
I love hearing all the chatter about tenkara rods. But for the uninitiated, which rod setup could get you started before you learn all that stuff, if you even care to?
When I am giving presentations the subject of “which rod” always, and I mean always, comes up. I share brands, blogs and social media groups for people to track their own “intel” related to price points and performance. I direct them toward tenkara friendly guides and fly shops in their area that are tenkara savvy. All that may still be non-digestable information for a beginner and just not interesting to another angler.
Imagine that if they are brand new to fishing, they might not have any of those answers. They might have never heard those questions before. I see this often when I ask if they are a warm water or cold water angler or if their target species is bass or trout, etc… that big ‘question mark’ pops into a bubble above their head.
The Rule of 12’s
I’ve added this snapshot to my presentations that can be the short quick answer to this question of “So which rod should I get again?” It is this “Rule of 12’s” that I suggest. It is meant to be a catchy phrase that might stick in their memory. If they don’t recall anything else, this may still be there to help out. This it much more than just a catchy phrase, it is very practical and tactical.
If you are interested in getting a tenkara rod and don’t know much about them you should remember this. Rod length: 12′, Line length: 12′, Fly size: 12. “12-12-12” will get you started on the water and you’ll be catching fish in no time.
I can go fish most waters and species with the “12-12-12” rig. This little info nugget may be just the right thing to simplify the equation for a budding tenkara angler. In an effort to remove barriers in an introduction conversation to tenkara, I like the simplicity of advice this offers.
Take ALL the other chatter out of the conversation. Forget about specifics of waters or target species. For the basic elements of tenkara and fixed line fly fishing let’s just use the “12-12-12” as a starting point. Simple and Done.
Here Are a Few Links to Make Your Search of 12’s Easier:
Flies / Kebari
Do you have a story to tell? A photo to share? A fly recipe that’s too good to keep secret? If you would like to contribute content to Tenkara Angler, click HERE for more details.
When you buy something using the retail links within our articles or gear shop, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Tenkara Angler does not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.